Uniform Determination of Death Act

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The Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) is a model state law that was approved for the United States in 1981 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, in cooperation with the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, and the President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research. The act has since been adopted by most US states and is intended "to provide a comprehensive and medically sound basis for determining death in all situations".[1] Brain death is a different condition than persistent vegetative state.[2] Due to better seat belt use, bicycle helmets, and the general decrease in violent crime, there are lower numbers of brain deaths now than historically. Donation after cardiac death (DCD) is a new protocol applied when there is severe neurologic injury but the patient does not meet the criteria for brain death.

The three sections of the Act proposed for enactment read as follows.[3]

Section 1[edit]

Determination of Death. An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

Section 2[edit]

Uniformity of Construction and Application. This Act shall be applied and construed to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law with respect to the subject of this Act among states enacting it.


As of 2018 the act has been adopted by 37 states, plus D.C. and the Virgin Islands: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.[4]


As of 2022 the Uniform Death Act is under revision by the Uniform Law Commission, with a draft expected to be completed by 2023.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE UNIFORM DETERMINATION OF DEATH ACT". Archived from the original on 2001-08-03.
  2. ^ "Brain Death vs. Persistent Vegetative State: What's the Legal Difference?". Findlaw.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-12-15. Retrieved 2005-04-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Legislative Fact Sheet - Determination of Death Act". The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Archived from the original on 2018-09-03. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  5. ^ Lewis, Ariane (January 31, 2022). "The Uniform Determination of Death Act is Being Revised". Neurocritical Care. 36 (2): 335–338. doi:10.1007/s12028-021-01439-2. PMID 35102538. S2CID 246432734. Retrieved August 17, 2022.

External links[edit]